Art9: The Asia Inter-religious Conference on Article 9

10. Vollversammlung des Ökum. Rates der Kirchen, Pusan 2013
Workshop "Article 9 of the Japanese Peace Constitution"  

Concept Paper for WCC Busan Madang Workshop

The Asia Inter-religious Conference on Article 9 


Concept Paper for WCC Busan Madang Workshop
Article 9 of the Japanese Peace Constitution
November 7, 2013

Article 9

a. Aspiring sincerely to an international peace based on justice and order, the Japanese people forever renounce war as a sovereign right of the nation and the threat or use of force as a means of settling international disputes.

b. In order to accomplish the aim of the preceding paragraph, land, sea, and air forces, as well as other war potential, will never be maintained. The right of belligerency of the state will not be recognized.

The 20th century was a century of tragedy and suffering for humanity. Two world wars happened in a short period of time, leading to the loss of numerous lives not only of soldiers but also of civilians including women, children, and the elderly. The advancement of science and technology brought wealth and comfort to our lives, but also brought greater destruction and carnage. Air strikes, toxic gases, and biological weapons were developed and finally atomic bombs exploded above our heads.

This period of time was atrocious for East Asia as well. Invasion and war colonization, wars of national liberation, socialist revolution and counterrevolution, civil war, famine and sorrow prevailed in East Asia for a 1ong time.

During the first half of this century of atrocity it was Japan (The Empire of Japan) that went on a spree of violence, advancing into and invading Korea, China, South East Asia, one after another. Having managed to industrialize before its neighboring countries and possessing a massive military force, Japan expanded into neighboring countries, colonized them, took control of their resources and markets, and tried to dominate the region.

In 1945, Japan was defeated. However the flames of war remained in East Asia. The Cold War between the U.S. and the Soviet Union tore the world apart and created serious confrontations. In East Asia, such confrontations occurred between China and the U.S. This cold war became hot war, and violence swept through the region. Wars continued in East Asia from the Chinese Civil War, the Korean War and the Vietnam War to the Sino-Vietnamese War, until the end of 1970s.

The 20th century was an era of war and violence, but at the same time was a time of ideals and hope when humanity struggled to overcome such atrocities and to create peace. In 1928 the Kellogg-Briand Pact was signed, and attempts and continued efforts were made to make war illegal, just as slavery torture, sexual discrimination, and colonization had been outlawed. League of Nations and United Nations were formed as systems of collective security. The Charter of United Nations (1945) came to prohibit the use and threat of force as a means of settling international disputes. In Europe, the European Community (European Union) was formed in order to never to repeat harrowing wars. Anti-war peace movement was born across borders around the world, enforcing a sense of solidarity and trust.

In this Movement of ideals and hope for humanity the Japanese constitution and especially the Article 9 that renounces war and maintenance of armed forces and war potential were born in 1946.

Before its surrender, Japan invaded East Asia, turned it into a battle field, killed countless numbers of people, and plundered as they went. On the other hand, there were atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the Battle of Okinawa, and air strikes of major Japanese cities, which put Japan through unbearable sufferings. It has been the earnest wish and prayer of Japanese people since 1945, not to repeat, start or be implicated in any wars.

Since that day to date, Japan indeed has not used war as the threat or means to solve international conflicts for nearly 70 years. In East Asia (or overseas), Japanese armed forces have not killed even a single person.

The Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution (Article 9) in its first clause states that “the Japanese people forever renounce war as a sovereign right of the nation and the threat or use of force as means of settling international disputes. "Up to this part, it overlaps with the UN Charter. It is the second clause which reads“ to accomplish the aim of the preceding paragraph, land, sea, and air forces, as well as other war potential, will never be maintained. The right of belligerency of the state will not be recognized” that the Japanese Constitution goes further, reaching towards a higher ideal.

Admittedly Japan was protected under its alliance with the U.S. However, without a strong resolution never to kill or be killed again, it would have been impossible to build a society so distant from military thinking. Personnel, resources, or technology was never invested in military affairs with priority. Even when disputes arise, the current Japan will never be inspired to solve them by the use of force. Children born in Japan never imagine that one day they may be conscripted and sent to a battle field.

The presence of the Article 9 is a blessing for the Japanese people, driving the reconstruction of the nation after the war. At the same time, it was fortunate for East Asia and the world that Japan made a resolution not to be a great military power. The Article 9 is also meant to be a pledge not to fight a war again towards East Asian countries that Japan once invaded.

However, once Japan achieved economic success and became one of the major powers in the world, the U.S. became interested in taking advantage of Japan's military potential for its world strategy. Particularly when the U.S. started suffering from its financial down turn and facing difficulties in maintaining its world wide military presence, their demands grew. The U.S. started demanding to unify the U.S. military and Japanese Self Defense Forces so that the Japanese Self Defense Forces could not only engage in self defense but also take part in wars with the U.S. army. In fact, after the 9.11 (2001), the Japanese Self Defense Forces were sent to the Indian Ocean and to Iraq. They were sent to a battle field for the first time since their establishment. Many Japanese citizens opposed the dispatch and filled law suits to contest it.

Fortunately, the Japanese Self Defense Forces returned without engaging in the actual battle. The high court of Nagoya judged that the dispatch of the Self Defense Forces to Iraq was unconstitutional. Even without engaging in the actual battle, merely sending the Self Defense Forces to a region perceived to be a war zone is regarded as an act that transgresses the constitution. In this was the Article 9 has always served as stumbling block stopping the Japanese government from using military force.

For this reason, the Article 9 is a hindrance for powers both in Japan and in the U.S. that want to utilize Japan's military force.

The Liberal Democratic Party/Abe administration, which returned to power with its victory in the 2012 election, also won the Upper House election in 2013 and gained majorities in both chambers of legislature. The Abe administration holds a revisionist view of history and wishes to change the post-war Constitution to remove the stopper against military engagement, so that it will be possible to threaten and exercise military force. The hurried attempt to lift the ban on exercising the right of collective defense is rooted in this mindset. (The government of Japan interprets that it is currently impossible to exercise this right, due to the Article 9.)

Once the constitution is amended, the Self Defense Forces will become a National Defense Force, which makes it highly likely for the defense force to engage in actual battle overseas with the U.S. military or on its own. This will breach the pledge made by Japan after the world war towards East Asia. Enforcing the military power of Japan and allowing its dispatch overseas will be an element that destabilizes the East Asian region.

The Abe administration has a strong tendency to try and restore the old regime that existed before the war, when Japan had invaded other Asian nations. It is fundamentally different from the conservatives that ruled the Japanese politics during the Cold War. According to their historical standpoint based on historical Revisionism, the conducts of Japan prior to 1945 would be justified. Statements by Prime Minister Abe and other Japanese politicians that appear to attempt justification of invasions and colonial rule are not only causing consternation among peoples of victim nations in East Asia, but also arousing voices of concern from the United States and Europe. If the policy to revise the Japanese constitution were to be successfully implemented, it could pose a serious threat to East Asia.

The contradictions of the U.S.-Japan alliance are concentrated in Okinawa. Okinawa was originally an independent kingdom, and was integrated into Japan in the late 19th century. It was a gruesome battle field where the U.S. and Japan fought hard towards the end of the Second World War. Engulfed in the battle, one in three residents lost their lives to the "Typhoon of Steel." After the war, the U.S. ran the administration of Okinawa with the consent of the Japanese government, which resulted in U.S. bases covering the island of Okinawa and turning it into the front line of the Cold War facing East Asia. It is said that the U.S. would not have been able to fight the Korean War or the Vietnam War, were it not for the bases in Okinawa. Although the administrative rights were returned to Japan in 1972, there was no sign of any decrease in the oppressive presence of the U.S. Bases.

Though Okinawa only constitutes 0.6% of Japanese territory, 74% of all U.S. Military related facilities in Japan are concentrated in Okinawa. Against this apparent contradiction, the residents of Okinawa have begun to express their strong opposition over the past few years. They assert that if the alliance with the U.S. is needed, the burden should be carried by all the people of Japan. Neither the Japanese government nor the people have an answer to this claim.

Furthermore, the U.S. military stationed new aircrafts capable of landing and taking off vertically, Ospreys, in Okinawa in 2012 going against the will of local residents. It is also planned to set up a permanent base for the Japanese Self Defense Forces on a Southern island (Yonaguni island) in preparation for the Chinese expansion to the region.

East Asia has lived through 150 years of severe callousness, and its historical wounds are still too deep to heal. Japan has not yet sufficiently recognized or reflected on its acts of invasion and colonization, and thus has not achieved true reconciliation with the victimized people. The dividing line drawn during the Cold War still remains between North and South Korea, the coasts of China and Taiwan, as well as between Japan and Russia. This is the reality of East Asia in contrast to Europe, which managed to become integrated.

In this reality, there have been incessant incidents jeopardizing peace. First of all there is the nuclear and missile development conducted by the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK). This is a policy adopted by DPRK which became further isolated in the international society due to the collapse of the former Soviet Union along with other socialist countries as well as China's shift to a route of reform and liberalization. Despite various attempted negotiations, the country conducted nuclear testing for the third time in February 2013 and is practically becoming a nuclear-armed state. It has become a problem which cannot be ignored by the East Asian region.

Secondly, there is the exacerbating territory issue surrounding the islands between China, Taiwan and Japan, and between Japan and Korea. These islands were framed in as parts of the Japanese territory during Japan's expansion during the late 19th century and the early 20th century. The ownership of the islands became ambiguous in the process of liberating the colonies and redefining the borders after the Japan was defeated in the war. In a sense, this is a problem created by the Japanese invasion policy and the subsequent Cold War. As it could potentially entail armed conflict particularly between Japan and China, this problem cannot be ignored.

Thirdly, China now being an economic power is solidifying its military potential and progressing into neighboring territories. Coinciding with the second issue, China has been colliding with the Philippines and Vietnam over marine resources in the South China Sea. While the neighboring countries rely economically on China, they are at the same time wary of its military expansion, which in turn induce them to rely on the "deterrence capability" of the U.S. that advocates its return to Asia. This may lead to a "new Cold War" in East Asia.

The fourth issue is the construction of a naval base in Jeju island. Jeju island has a history similar to Okinawa including discrimination from the main land and the Jeju Uprising ofApril3rd, 1948 where 30,000 people, 10% of the total island population, were massacred by the U.S. army and Korean government. Despite the opposition from many of the islanders, the Korean government plans on constructing a naval base in the Gangjeong village. Although the naval base is of Korea, sooner or later U.S. naval ships will also start to use the base to call in. The coalition of the naval bases in Jeju island, Okinawa along with the Visit Force in the Philippines will put great pressure on China and DPRK, intensifying the threat of a military crisis.

Based on the above, we make the following statement.

(1) We are deeply concerned that the Abe administration of the Liberal Democratic Party intends to revise and amend Article 9, a pledge for peace in East Asia and to never fight again. Revising the peace constitution of Japan will bring about serious instability in the region of East Asia. Japan should never be a threat to neighboring countries nor become a destabilizing factor.

(2) The Japanese government should strive to resolve the "territorial disputes" in accordance with the spirit of Article 9 through dialogue and diplomatic negotiations. We seek that no country shall use or threat to use armed force as a means of settling such disputes. It is against the Charter of the United Nations, against the Japan-China Joint Communiqué of 1972, and against the Japan-China Peace and Friendship Treaty of 1978.

(3) The government of Japan should take actions without delay to mitigate the crushing burden of U.S. military bases put upon the people of Okinawa. We demand the U.S. marines to return to the U.S. main land.

(4) Nuclear development by DPRK is a threat to the entire East Asian region. We oppose and condemn the nuclear development and testing of DPRK. At the same time, the neighboring countries, including nuclear powers, are to not threaten the DPRK by means of military force. The DPRK shall reaffirm the "Joint Declaration on the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula" ratified by North and South Korea in 1992. The DPRK shall also reaffirm the "Joint Statement for the realization of the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula" agreed at the six-party talks in September of 2005, and withdraw from nuclear development.
Simultaneously, we strongly seek that Japan and the Republic of Korea are tempted to conduct nuclear development. This is a security dilemma in itself. The nuclear arms race increases the risk and volatility of the region.

(5) We expect all countries in East Asia to overcome the temptations of nationalism, and following the spirit of the Japanese Constitution to construct a relationship based on no-war, reconciliation, equality, mutual respect, and mutual benefit.